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tv   Americas Newsroom With Bill Hemmer Dana Perino  FOX News  September 14, 2021 6:00am-8:00am PDT

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if you have an eighth grader that never reads on their own when they pick this up, it'll be the first book they read without being assigned and the money goes to a great cause and what a family. they rallied around him and all moved home to help out. well done. we'll have more of that interview on radio a little bit later. pete: hope everybody has a great day.
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>> this was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. i never thought in my lifetime i would see an unconditional surrender to the taliban. this is betrayal. >> i do not believe a word you're saying on this. >> i do not wish to hear from you. what you said is dead wrong. >> i don't wish to hear your lie. it is so unfortunate the consequences. you need to resign. that would be leadership. >> dana: senator mike rounds will question secretary blinken this morning on the senate side. peter doocy with the latest from the white house. let's go to capitol hill where aishah hosni is standing by for day two. >> if it was anything like
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yesterday it is sure to draw the ire of republicans. blinken yesterday defenlded the withdrawal of the troops from afghanistan at one point hitting his message home saying we inherited a deadline. we did not inherit a plan. he also revealed there are still several thousand u.s. green card holder on top of the some 100 citizens still stuck in afghanistan. there were several heated exchanges with republicans including this one moment when congressman bryan mast asked him about the leaked transcripts from biden's call where biden tried to persuade ghani to change the perception. >> the issue was not whether afghanistan had the capacity to withstand the taliban, whether the will and plan to do so. >> the transcript is a lie. it is in correct. >> it is false, lie, incorrect
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he did not work to tamp down the intelligence on the taliban? >> absolutely not. >> you can ask why are planes not taking off from mazar-e-sharif and how are people being vetted and what is the administrations approach to deal with the taliban. are they a terrorist organization? some senate democrats would rather focus on the past 20 years than the events that happened in august. senator chris murphy adding he hoped republicans don't turn this into a circus. dana, blinken will appear at this hearing in person. he got a lot of tough love yesterday from republicans for appearing virtually for their hearing. dana. >> dana: i actually -- i thought it would be a better hearing if they were in person. today i think that will happen. >> bill: blinken testified yesterday about 100 americans still stranded in afghanistan. this amid new questions on
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whether a u.s. drone strike took out any isis-k terrorist as the white house claims. peter doocy is on that. >> lots of questions about that. not many answers. the pentagon told us they took out two isis-k planners with an unmanned drone strike near kabul a few weeks ago. since, no further details like names. >> they've either lied or may be that wrong. understand that when they completely withdrew the state department and the central intelligence people and the soft people, they lost all their ability to be accurate. so i would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. i suspect they didn't know and made something up. >> "the new york times" is reporting the u.s. drone strike killed an aide worker and unarmed civilians. the question that has now been put directly to the pentagon on camera. >> will you be able to confirm
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at any point the people's names or identities of those killed in the two drone strikes targeting alleged isis militants in the last days before the withdrawal was complete? thanks. >> thanks. what i can say i cannot confirm them at this time. >> we may get further details on that when the secretary of state is back on capitol hill. the first time yesterday and today that tony blinken or any senior biden officials have been held accountable by another branch of government. the checks and balances are in action today. white house officials would rather talk about the economy or covid-19. these lawmakers are very unlikely to ask about that. it should be all afghanistan all hearing long. bill. >> bill: we're watching. peter doocy at the white house. >> dana: joining us now is one of the lawmakers questioning secretary blinken. south dakota senator mike rounds. what have you not heard the
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administration answer so far that you would like to get to the bottom to? >> right now they say they've put out about 124,000 individuals that they helped get out. problem is the 124,000, half of them we don't know who they are. there are between 5,000 and 6,000 americans they've helped out. there is half of the remaining 124,000 that are siv, special immigration visas, but the remaining numbers we don't know who they are and we want to find out who those individuals are and how they were allowed to come out when we have 100,000 more individuals that helped our men and women in uniform over the last 20 years. their lives are at risk. we don't know where they're at and we aren't getting good answers from the department of state as to how we'll help them get out of afghanistan alive. >> bill: senator, two bits we'll play here. one seems to be a common line
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that secretary blinken used often, that is we inherited a deadline but we did not inherit a plan. >> we inherited a deadline not a plan. >> i will assert that the events of august 14th had the direct -- a bad decision by president trump. >> donald trump administration signed this agreement, negotiated it, executed it and president biden completed the withdrawal. that's what happened. >> bill: i don't know how much you got to watch that yesterday. the whole idea about the deadline was moved by the current administration and so the debate goes to what was their plan to get out? >> look, the previous administration under president trump was set up to do a conditions-based withdrawal. there were changes being made. the taliban has not lived up to their side of the deal that were being made. this administration had every
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opportunity to modify a withdrawal. when joe biden decided to arbitrarily set a date and set it without regard to whether or not the taliban was honoring their side of the commitment so far and was not based upon conditions on the ground, he made a very serious mistake and it has cost american lives. >> dana: the other issue that i believe that the secretary will get questioned on today is the drone strike that happened as the kabul airport was in chaos, we had had our 13 killed in action and we had 18 additional people injured in that attack and many hours later there was a bombing. and the administration said that it was an isis-k target. it turns out apparently not to be the case. "the new york times" and "washington post" are reporting that. admiral kirby at the defense department says they can't confirm or name the individual. is this something you would like to see them answer? >> i think they'll have to
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answer but i think we'll probably get more accurate information from the department of defense with general austin. he is expected to come in and testify before the senate armed services committee, classified session. doing so i think we'll get more direct information from him. today with secretary of state i think we need to focus on moving forward how are we going to help get the remaining americans out? what is your plan? what about the other individuals who helped our young men and women in uniform? what is your plan to get them out? how will you respond to china and russia and to iran and pakistan who now see this void in afghanistan and all of them trying to fill it? what is your plan moving forward? why is it after this arbitrary date, how do you expect to be able to respond accordingly in that area now that you've withdrawn our forces and you have very little to negotiate with? >> bill: thank you, we're
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watching. 50 minutes away. leon panetta with neil cavuto. panetta has been critical of all this. here is what he said yesterday. >> presidents make mistake like anybody else. the most important thing for this president to do is to be willing to accept responsibility for the mistakes. >> bill: i don't know if that is going to happen. >> dana: i was watching that and i thought okay. he is not the only one in the obama/biden white house that has been critical. there is also this. you notice that the secretary was on by remote. there was pushback against that. he was given the option. here is what scott perry of pennsylvania said. >> can you tell us where you are today? >> yes, i'm at the state department. >> couldn't be bothered to come here and see congress. that's great. >> excuse me, sir. my understanding is the house was not in session and that's why the session -- >> i'm right here, so is the
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chairman and ranking member. we're here. >> bill: he decided not to come. your point about what panetta said is very well taken because many of the obama administration officials have been critical of the move the entire time. i've heard very few supported it. he goes on tv to make a point. >> dana: he is not afraid to do so. robert gates wrote in his books something very critical of vice president biden at the time he had been wrong on every foreign policy decision for 30 years in his career. at that time when it came out there wasn't a lot of defense of the vice president at the time by the people in the obama/biden white house. as i recall. >> bill: 11 past. election day in california. democrats pulling out all the stops to get newsom out of office. will it happen? why republican larry elder says he likes his chances today.
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>> dana: another major storm is pounding the gulf coast weeks after hurricane ida. we'll have a live report ou the region is copying. >> democrats hammering out details on the plan to raise taxes and there are some whoppers in this bad boy. who will be hit the hardest? we'll show it to you on the board coming up next. >> this tax hiking wish list would add up to one of the biggest tax hikes in american history. at exactly the time their liberal policies already have our economy sputtering. tomorrow holds the course of your financial future. which is why it's good to know exactly how you'll get there. for more than 150 years, generations have trusted the strength and stability of pacific life to protect their tomorrows. because protecting those you care about with life insurance and retirement solutions is a winning game plan.
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>> dana: nicholas making landfall as a category 1 hurricane in the texas gulf coast and weakened to a tropical storm. there are concerns it could cause floods in the south over
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the next two days. robert wray is live in galveston, texas with more. >> good morning. once you think it will ease up it begins again. the sideways rain and the winds picking up. the gulf of mexico behind me in galveston near houston awaiting that counter clockwise swirl and all that rain pounding down from what was a category 1 hurricane when it made landfall 1:00 a.m. central this morning. what we've seen is damage up and down the coast all morning. we've seen flash flooding, over a foot of rain in galveston, texas and more on the way to houston and the border of texas and louisiana. lake charles that has been pounded by two hurricanes and a bad winter storm in the past year and above average precipitation doesn't need anymore rain. new orleans and that pocket now still recovering from ida just
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two weeks ago about to get the wrath of nicholas and tropical force rain and wind. on top of that over 450,000 people are currently out of power in the state of texas. those numbers continue to go up since about two hours ago. it was around 400,000. as you can see, nicholas not done by any means. we have a few days left of this. let's hope the flash floodings and precipitation is not as bad as we expect. guys. >> dana: thank you so much, robert. good to have you. >> bill: 19 past the hour. talk about money. house ways and means committee right now are meeting in washington as democrats hammer out the new tax hike proposals to pay for this massive 3.5 trillion dollar spending bill. want to break down in large chunks what it looks like on the screen behind me. the big one. the number to watch. they're trying to get $2.9 trillion in tax revenue and they are looking at all kinds
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of corners to find it. first of all among individual americans looking about a $1 trillion some of the proposals that leaked out over the weekend from the house committee there. some of the provisions would raise the top bracket to 39.6%. right now around 37%. if that holds capital gains tax 25. 21 now. that would increase as well. this sucker tacked on over the weekend. 3% surcharge on high earners. 3% of all your income will go to the federal government is what they are talking about now in broad strokes for individuals. here are the companies now. what's interesting this is a less figure on the companies than it is the individuals. $900 billion here. the big one here top corporate tax rate goes to 26 1/2%, again all negotiable right now but what they are talking about. last slide to show you.
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among drug companies, they want to raise about $700 billion. they have a number of different categories. look at this one here. increase to tobacco and nicotine taxes which you might think would be paid by the companies who produce the nicotine and the tobacco but you can bet your bottom dollar that will come right down to the people who choose to use tobacco and nicotine in their lives. $300 billion over here. what's under that i do not know. this is your bottom line number as of now seems to be that's your negotiating point $2.9 trillion. i think we will need a lot more zeros on the board. how do they do this? do they get it done? what does it look like in the end? we have had prominent democrats come out and say, you know, not on my watch. >> dana: you also have people like alexandria ocasio-cortez who are determined that they
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won't vote for it if the rich don't have to pay more. if you look at the "new york times" today progressives are so mad because they think the initial draft lets people wealthy like musk and bezos off too easy. >> bill: remember the debate about salt tax in the blue states? apatiently it's not in there. there are democratic moderates in the house who said no salt no deal. it's not in the deal. >> dana: all of their work for the past year they have nothing so far. >> bill: "wall street journal," no one making less than $400,000 a year will pay more is a myth. economic literature is clear corporations don't pay taxes to your point. they're merely the collection vessels for levies passed to combination employees, consumers and shareholders and why we point out the tax on nicotine over there. we'll see how it all comes out. they want to write this sucker by tomorrow.
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$3.5 trillion. >> dana: it will go through the fall and we'll pay attention to it. maybe we'll get you a bigger board. can we show you this? this is ridiculous event in new york called the met gala. $35,000 a ticket. last night alexandria ocasio-cortez wears this gown. this woman knows how to get attention. tax the rich on her dress. who knows how much that cost? this is the best part, right? first of all steven miller said you know who didn't go to the met gala? senator joe manchin and other things. this was amazing. aoc talked about in her tweet the dress designer came from nothing. had a lot of success and made the point about her being an immigrant. i think it's amazing. turns out that the designer was born in toronto. so she might have grown up in tough circumstances but when you think of immigrants making it in america you don't
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necessarily think about the canadians. >> bill: i saw a interview on cnn. she started from nothing and made her company. >> dana: very accomplished person. >> bill: it got the eye and attention of aoc and all the attention today. go back to the board. all the success you built up could be taken away if you are working in america today from the taxes proposed today. >> dana: a new york woman goes missing during a cross-country trip and her family is pleading for answers. what investigators are saying about her disappearance. antony blinken has a second day on the hot seat. looking for answers on our allies and u.s. citizens from afghanistan. >> if that's why they're missing their son because intelligence was manipulated. knows everyone's unique. that's why they customize your car insurance,
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>> bill: washington, d.c. secretary of state an tony blinken back in the hot seat top of the hour and facing questions on the afghan withdrawal. we'll bring it to you live. lawmakers on both sides want answers how the afghan government fell apart in just 10 days after president biden said a collapse like that was unlikely. america's top diplomat defending the withdrawal in a testy house hearing. the senate side today where you put blame squarely on the trump administration yesterday. >> it was just a week ago u.s. secretary of state an tony blinken was meeting with his qatar counterpart how they would help the players get a stable situation to happen this kabul and across afghanistan. the talks are ongoing but a
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lot of questions today how did afghanistan end up in the situation it is now. he talked a lot about the realities the biden administration faced in the early days of the administration. here in afghanistan you have see the military equipment the taliban has. despite the fact the secretary of state talked about the taliban not obtaining that equipment. you see how spread out these fighters are and how organized they are. it brings up these questions how did the united states, the biden administration and u.s. intelligence community not understand the capability of the taliban while also not understanding just how incapable the administration of afghan president ghani really was. and the situation today in afghanistan is heading back towards somewhat of a normal life for the people. you can hear there are cars honking, a lot of traffic in the city. still taliban checkpoints set up throughout kabul. but the coming weeks and months could be detrimental for the afghan people. we arrived today in kabul on a plane chartered by the world
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health organization. one of many organizations around the world that are flooding afghanistan with aid. but it simply will not be enough. qatar and pakistan and turks are working on this but you have a population now under taliban rule and the taliban doesn't have any way to make money and doesn't have the relationships with the international community to sustain a government here in kabul and across the country. a lot of questions for the secretary of state today when he is testifying before lawmakers but a lot of questions for the afghan people how they will now survive with no government and basically caretaker government for the taliban that is simply working to try to develop some sort of relationship with the internation community to get more aid money and resources for the afghan people. >> bill: good to have you back on the ground there. there is some wicked videos floating around the internet how the taliban is behaving especially toward women already. we'll get on that in the days to come. thank you, trey. back in kabul, afghanistan.
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>> dana: let's bring in three people working to help with evacuations from afghanistan. let me start with you, jen. you are efforts continue, i assume? >> yeah. more so than ever honestly because what we've learned over the last two weeks after the airport closed there are exponentially more people trapped than we thought. we have 20,000 requests, people begging project dynamo for rescue. and my little organization with the guys on the ground is having to go through all of these requests and vet them for documents and vet them. they don't understand their immigration status. they don't understand our immigration laws. they think they have something that they don't have. and they are just begging us for help. so in the last two weeks --
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three weeks we've had to roll up private airline and a private travel agency and figure out how to run all of that in the space of two or three weeks. and staff it with all volunteers. >> dana: alex, many of the people jen is talking about are people who served along with the united states. they were promised that we wouldn't abandon them, but we did. how much of this is about doing the right thing for you? >> it's absolutely about doing the right thing. one of the reasons i got into this was because i would run with an afghan women athlete and we would do that proper their protection on our base. the taliban visited their house, beat one up. took sneakers and the graffiti the place and said we'll be back. the clock was ticking to get them to safety as soon as possible. we were able to get them to safety but there is over 20,000 more people sadly like that. we've got to bring them home.
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>> dana: joy, tell us about your group's efforts. >> our group is working with the u.s. government finally starting coordination effort with general milley and we're proud he did that to insure we bring all our afghan allies home as well as american citizens. we're focused on making sure activists, women and journalist and who stood for american ideals don't get left behind. some don't have a contract with the u.s. government. the 20,000 number is greater than what we think. >> human first is working in collaboration with project dynamo, and others. we quickly became the hail mary button for the ground game and when people were running into issues with paperwork, emergency medical, food, water, transit they called us. so far we've dispatched over 30,000 calls to safety.
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there are still american citizens in country. we want to focus on as well as our afghan allies. >> dana: does this surprise you that private efforts by civilians are doing this work, that our state and defense department wasn't able to do? >> it doesn't surprise me. it encourages me. you have to remember a lot of private efforts are former veterans, current veterans, former service members and government employees where you see the events that unravel and you don't have a choice other than to step up and show out. i think the most amazing thing about the private sector volunteer efforts has been the ability to leverage open source technology to move thousands of data calls and get everything organized for the government to take over the sustaining mission. >> dana: senator rounds was on with us earlier and be part of the panel today questioning the secretary. one of the things he said he wants to know is what is the plan now to help get the people
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out? have you heard from the state department? do you know how that might be answered today? >> no. i know what my plan is. to continue to try to get the taliban to give us flight clearance so i can get the planes off the grounds and get these americans and green card holders and lprs and nato passports and afghan allies out. that's what we're waiting on is flight clearance. if we don't have that, then we have to start moving over land, which we have had to do. but for bryan and matt and our other guys on the ground they've spent two decades of deployments in country. this is deeply, deeply personal for them. these are their guys that they spent 20 years with. >> dana: we heard a little voicemail from carl the other day, 10 seconds long. the one that was on the phone with us when that bombing happened right in the immediate moments after. can you assure us he is still working to get out?
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>> we spend every day working to get him out and moving him. can't say much more now but hopefully good news soon. he is safe and very soon i hope i will be here with good news on an early morning with you, dana. >> dana: for any of the people that you've helped get out, joy. what kind of reaction do they have? >> it is heartbreaking in some instances because the journey is so dynamic. and it is also very inspiring when they finally make it back to the states. we were able to follow one family and some unaccompanied minors from the hills of afghanistan all the way through to dulles and reunite with their mother and on to texas working to get them relocation and resettlement activities, jobs, housing, etc. every person we put through that system makes it worth it
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to continue. >> dana: alex, jen, joy, we're impressed, we're grateful and we would love to stay in touch with you. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> bill: fox news alert now on the family of a new york woman who disappeared while on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend. now pleading with the public for help. gabby's last known whereabouts were in grand teton national part northwestern wyoming three weeks ago. her boyfriend returned to the couple's home shortly after and now he is lawyered up and refusing to cooperate. steve, what else can we add to what happened here? >> a real mystery. police describe it as an very odd place. gabby, 22 years old, set off from new york in early july with her boyfriend of several years in a modified camper van visiting national parks on their way out to oregon with
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the 23-year-old boyfriend. this past weekend, the boyfriend and the van returned to the boyfriend's family home in north port, florida, just outside of tampa but no gabby. her parents are pleading for any information about her whereabouts, anyone who has seen them. gabby's mother says her mother's intuition tells her gabby is alive somewhere but in trouble. >> she got in touch with us and she could be alone somewhere, she could be stranded somewhere. and needs help. and i hope that we're -- i hope everybody is looking for her. hope the hikers and the rangers and campers and everybody knows her face and are looking for her. >> gabby's father is also helping with the search. he describes his own situation as a kind of slow motion drowning. >> unless you are in it and the parent, you know, you just can't describe how that feeling is. you've never felt it before.
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i pray that no one ever feels it again. >> her boyfriend is 23-year-old brian laundry. the two visited several national parks on their trip across-country and posted frequently on social media. the two were last seen together august 24th leaving a hotel. police have confiscated the van but yet to speak with laundry. his parents would not allow police to speak with him. when police arrived at the home in florida this weekend. back to you. >> bill: more to come on that clearly. thank you. steve harrigan. >> dana: protestors surrounding the home of the supreme court justice brett kavanaugh and why they demand he resign. recall day in california with newsom's team saying there is no scenario he will lose. >> they want california to not
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>> bill: today is the day in california voters deciding whether to recall the governor gavin newsom and who should replace him. democrats outnumber republicans 2 to 1 in the state. the party still brought out the big guns to help newsom including the last-minute trip from president biden. >> the eyes of the nation are on california because the decision you are about to make it will have a huge impact on california, it will reverberate around the nation and quite frankly not a joke around the world. >> i believe it will be a surge of votes coming in from independent and republicans so there won't be any question tomorrow about who wins. it will be me.
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>> bill: jessica patterson, california republican chairwoman. gary south former newsom campaign manager and advisor. make your point. jessica, do you succeed or fail today? >> i think we have a great opportunity. this recall is 100% about gavin newsom and his failure and no amount of national coverage, national saviors coming here will change what is happening in california. whether it's the surging crime, the homeless crisis or being the last in the nation to send our kids back to school, gavin newsom have failed californians. >> bill: california has only been successful one time and you were part of it. you were an advisor to gray davis back in 2003. how different is it now? or is it that different? >> it's totally different. there are very few similarities
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between this recall and the one in 2003. this recall by the way will go down in flames. this is at least a high double digits loss, probably 60/40. latest polls show losing 60/40. the republican party in california will have to learn a lesson. if they want to win public office in california they will have to come in through the front door and have to beat democrats in a regularly scheduled general elections which they haven't done since 2006. they won't be able to continue to pry their way in through the back door by using the recall. pure and simple. >> bill: 2003, schwarzenegger was the beneficiary of the recall being successful. jessica, this year during covid all the issues surrounding covid and this french laundry visit and napa valley seems to come up in all the surveys.
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what have you found out about that and why does it hit home? >> first it was the incompetence and then the hypocrisy. people can understand arguments being made on policy. sometimes it is made in a vacuum. you don't have all the information. when you put together policies and then you blatantly disregard those policies when it comes to you whether it's dining indoors, maskless when you tell people not to visit their families on thanksgiving or sending your kids to in-person private school while most public school children had to stay home and finish the second year in remote learning. it is the hypocrisy that is really hurting californians and they just want a government that cares about them and that is working to try and make them live their best lives. we've seen california -- >> bill: gary just said the republican effort will go down in flames. >> it wouldn't be the first time that gary is wrong.
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i'm looking forward to that today. >> bill: last word then, gary. >> you know, the republican party in california is like -- being chair in the republican california is like being the captain of the titanic. less than 1 out of 4 voters in california is a republican. they keep acting like it is operating in wyoming or oklahoma. you can't continue to try to force far right candidates spouting right wing propaganda down the throats of california voters. there is an old saying in retail, you can't sell cat food if cats don't like it. cats don't like when you are trying to sell, jessica. >> bill: thanks to both of you. we'll see how it goes later tonight when returns come in. >> dana: we are just minutes away from senate lawmakers
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>> bill: facebook says all of its more than its 3 billion users are held to the same standard forwhat they can post online. a new report on the "wall street journal" finds they have a secret elite and protect them from all or some of facebook's
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rules. we break it down. >> the "wall street journal" investigation showed those facebook users with the different users is v.i.p. users. it allows celebrities and other high-profile users to be exempt from facebook user rules. 5.8 million people here. according to docksments the "wall street journal" reviewed the reason for this is the company feared a high profile embarrassment more than it was feared being fair for everyone. for example, without cross check the exclusion, without that an internal q and a was flagged by the algorithm as misinformation and suppressed. company executives knew about the double standard even as congress heard this on march 25th. >> i am worried about bias and we take a number of steps to make sure none of the changes that we make are targeted at in any kind of biased way.
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>> so according to the report facebook allowed any of its employees to add people to the list as it was called internally. one of the reporters breaking the story was struck by the motivation from the company. >> facebook is biased toward themselves. their concern wasn't right or left but who is in a position to cause trouble for us, to embarrass us, to pass legislation? these are the people they're worried about. >> facebook's vice president of integrity tweeted this. content moderation is imperfect and extra layer of checks is logical so in addition to lying to users about being fair in the way it uses its policies facebook also misled its own oversight board. in a statement the board said it expressed concern about transparency. facebook is trying to phase out this program. >> bill: thanks. edward lawrence. maybe more to come on that. >> dana: are you on the list? >> bill: i don't think so. >> dana: i don't think i'm on the list.
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posting pictures of dogs. i'm not too controversial. secretary of state antony blinken faces more questions on the botched withdrawal from afghanistan. it is before the senate foreign relations committee. >> bill: good morning, dana. secretary blinken set to appear in person for today's hearing. critics hit him hard yesterday for appearing virtually for the house committee that was underway. that back and forth became heated at times during the five hour hearing. senator mike rounds, meanwhile will get a chance to question blinken today. here is what he told dana and me an hour ago. >> we need to focus on moving forward how are we going to help get the remaining americans out? what is your plan? what about the other individuals who helped our young men and women in uniform? what is your plan to get them out? how are you going to respond to china and to russia and to iran
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and pakistan who now see this void in afghanistan and all of them trying to fill it? >> bill: we'll speak live with tennessee congressman mark green. first to the pentagon we go and lucas tomlinson begins a new hour with new revelations on last month's deadly drone strike in afghanistan. what did you find out? >> good morning. officials said there was a bomb in the car heading to the kabul airport to kill more americans. the matter is under investigation by the pentagon. >> the assessment by central command is ongoing and i won't get ahead of that. the strike was taken to prevent an imminent attack on the airport. >> 10 family members including seven children were among those killed in the attack. the chairman of the joints chiefs of staff said there were secondary explosions. this strike took place days after 13 american troops were killed at the kabul airport in
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the suicide bombing. more attacks on americans were not just predicted but anticipated. the drone flew over the middle east. officials say american operators on the ground, people congressman green used to work with who were the ones who targeted the strike. it was done on the ground not far away. president biden predicted u.s. forces would be attacked again after 13 officers were killed. >> president biden: knowing we very well may have another attack the military has concluded that's what we should do. i think they're right. >> officials say it is notable the threat of the suicide attack went down after the drone strike. officials say this is war. there will be civilian casualties. >> bill: thank you from the pentagon this morning. wealth -- we'll follow it. >> how meticulous was the
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planning for the trump administration declared may 1 withdrawal? >> we inheristed a deadline, not a plan. >> so no plan -- no plan at all. it is amazing that it wasn't much, much worse. >> dana: antony blinken defending the timeline for the u.s. exit in afghanistan. our next guest at the hearing is calling ot blinken for not taking responsibility for the chaotic withdrawal. >> your credibility, i think, would be a lot greater if you would at least own something. x, y, z something. you follow the lead of your president and you blame everybody else. you admit we had no idea the taliban would be so successful. we had no idea that the afghans would fail like this. that's your fault. that's your administration's fault. >> dana: mark green joins us
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now. this hearing in the senate is about to get underway. they are getting seated. wanted to ask you about the fact what you said in terms of taking responsibility is something that leon panetta, former c.i.a. director under president obama said yesterday as well. did you hear any of that yesterday? >> no, dana. thanks for having me on the show. it was pretty disturbing to hear antony blinken blame anybody but themselves for so many errors. i pointed out many. the sheer fact they wouldn't own any speaks volumes about this administration. >> bill: you said repeatedly we inherited a deadline, we did not inherit a plan. >> it is just song and dance. the trump administration wanted out by november of last year and delayed the withdrawal themselves. in a couple occasions bombed the taliban back into compliance.
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here the taliban from the beginning was breaking the agreement and in fact the overall agreement was supposed to be a power sharing agreement. so they attempt to overthrow and effectively do so overthrow their partner that they are supposed to be in a power sharing agreement and joe biden and blinken did nothing. so it is on them. >> bill: thank you for your time. this hearing will be underway now and we want to get in on it. >> taliban militants abusing presidents. one of my colleagues said there were mocking us in saying you want freedom? what freedom? this is not the taliban of 2001. this happened last week. amid the extensive oversight work plans in afghanistan we must not lose sight of people like the men and women who continue to protest in the streets. calling for freedom in the face of violence and threats. repression of the afghan people
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is happening in realtime and the world must bear witness and hold the taliban accountable. let me turn to the focus of today's hearing. mr. secretary, the execution of the u.s. withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed. this committee expects to receive a full explanation of the administration's decision in afghanistan since coming into office last january. there has to be accountability. we will have other hearings to develop a set of lessons learned over the course of the war to understand the many mistakes made over the course of 20 years. the diversion and -- when the bush decided to invade iraq. double dealing by pakistan in providing a safe haven to the taliban and the list goes on. we need to understand why successive administrations made so many of the same mistakes repeatedly. perhaps most urgently we need to understand why the afghan
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government and military collapsed so precipitously. this rapid collapse laid bare a fundamental fact, that successive administrations lied to the congress over the years about the durability of afghan military and governing institutions and we need to understand why. the chaos of last august is due if large part to the february 2020 surrender deal negotiated by president trump. a deal that was clearly built on a set of lies. a deal that led to the release of 5,000 hardened taliban fighters boosting the militant group on the battlefield this summer. we know now the taliban had no intention of pursuing a political path and peace deal with the afghan government. it had no intention of pursuing a democratic path. it had no intention of breaking ties with al qaeda. and it clearly had no intention of allowing women to have their rightful seat at the table and
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to participate fully in society. to demand the taliban abide by its commitments now and expect a different result is absurd. taliban rules afghanistan so we'll have to deal with it in some form. but let's not kid ourselves. there is no such thing as a reformed taliban. this group is woefully stuck in the 14th century with no will to come out. their concept of political representation is based squarely on the use of violent force and intimidation. the administration says we should judge the taliban by their actions. and i agree. and their actions since taking over afghanistan have been pretty horrifying. beating women activists, murdering ethnic and religious minorities, separating classrooms by gender, shutting down local media, refusal to break with al qaeda, appointing the head of a foreign terrorist
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organization that is designated by our government from the haqqani network to lead the ministry of interior and the list goes on. with this in mind, the united states and the united nations should maintain existing sanctions on the taliban. the u.s. should reimpose those sanctions that were waived during the negotiations process. and the u.s. should consider new measures to impose higher costs on the group and its leaders while insuring that lifesaving humanitarian aid is able to assist those most vulnerable to hunger, disease and disaster. nor should any country be in a rush to recognize this regime. a minimum of following criteria must be met before recognition is even considered. absolute repudiation of all cross border terrorism including al qaeda and associated groups. equality of rights for girls and women. protection for minority religious andeth nix groups and
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democratic elections. the taliban now run afghanistan but that does not mean we ever accept their behavior. i supported the decision to eventually withdraw our military from afghanistan. i have long maintained, however, that how the united states left mattered. doing the right thing in the wrong way can end up being the wrong thing. and to get this right, the biden administration needed to answer two fundamental questions. first, would the withdrawal leave a durable political arrangement in its wake? second, would the u.s. and our allies maintain and ability to collect intelligence and conduct counter terrorism operations in a region still reiff with groups seeking to do us harm? i believe the u.s. fell short on the first measure and time will tell on the second but the prospects don't look promising. so let me start with some
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framing questions about the biden administration's afghanistan decision making. first upon coming into office how did the biden administration assess the impact on the ground of president trump's flawed deal with the taliban? did the administration attempt to noejiate better terms with the taliban upon coming into office? did the president's april withdrawal announcement set in motion any contingency planning in the event the taliban rapidly took over the country? what was the plan to evacuate all americans? what was the plan to evacuate s.ivs, p1, 2 and other at-risk groups. what was the plan to get staff out and voice of america and the national endowment for democracy and other u.s.-funded organizations? president trump with stephen miller intentionally blocked sivs from being processed, which i think is a barbaric and
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cruel decision which likely resulted in death for some u.s. partners. how did the biden administration specifically accelerate processing sivs upon coming into office and what was the plan to avoid for deal with the refugee and humanitarian crisis? i suspect you'll address some of the issues. let me applaud the efforts from the department of state and defense on the ground who worked under horrific circumstances. their actions in evacuating over 120,000 individuals were nothing short of heroic. these personnel deserve answers. the american public deserves answer and the afghan people certainly deserve answers. let me close with three points. first, while communication from the administration has been frequent throughout this crisis, information from state, pentagon and white house has often been vague or contradictory. this was obviously a fluid and
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difficult situation, frustration among many members was high and this has to improve. to put this in context frustration came on top of years of stonewalling by the trump administration and its refusal to engage the senate on the taliban negotiations. this is one of the examples why i've been trying to pursue on the case act to understand what are the written agreements that come between an administration and others? maybe if we had seen all the elements of it we would have been in a better position? second i'm very disappointed that secretary austin declined our request to testify today. a full accounting of the u.s. response to this crisis is not complete without the pentagon especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the u.s.-trained and funded afghan military. his decision not to appear before the committee will affect my personal judgment on the department of defense nominees. i expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future and if he
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does not, i may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him and others over the course of these last 20 years to testify. third, i implore the administration to remain focused on afghanistan. it is critically important that the world bear witness and take action when possible in response to taliban abuses. your visit, mr. secretary, to qatar and germany sent the right message and i strongly urge sustained attention to afghanistan in the months and years to come. i also urge the administration to strengthen its resolve and efforts to secure the relocation of our civil society partners now at grave risk who were left behind in afghanistan. they include heroic individuals working for organizations on the front lines of u.s. efforts to strengthen democracy and human rights including the rights of afghan women and girls. finally, i know that senator young is not with us today. he is home in indiana attending
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the funeral of marine corporal sanchez. he was among those killed in the horrendous terror attacks on august 26 at the kabul airport. i would like to suggest that we have a moment of silence and pay our respects to all those brave american service members who were killed or injured on that day and that we also honor the thousands of american service members, afghan soldiers and civilians who were casualties of this 20-year war. please join me in a moment of silence. [moment of silence] thank you. i will turn to senator rich for his opening comments. >> good morning and welcome back to our committee. you are doing the right thing testifying here today and i thank you. however, like the chairman, i am disappointed some of your colleagues have declined to testify particularly secretary austin.
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there is questions that we really need to have answered and it is disheartening that they declined to testify. the debacle in afghanistan is an interagency failure and the fact that you are the only one stepping up is disheartening. i agree with the chairman that this was -- the withdrawal was a dismal failure. one of the things we need to get to the bottom is who is responsible for this and who made the decisions? there is real questions right now as to who is making the decisions. we know for a fact the president of the united states is somewhat disadvantaged here in someone is calling the shots. he can't even speak without someone in the white house censoring it or signing off on it as recently as yesterday in mid sentence he was cut off by someone in the white house who makes the decision that the president of the united states
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is not speaking correctly. so i would like to know who this person is. this is a puppet act if you would and we need to know who is in charge and who is making these decisions. and the only way we'll get that is when we have people like you come in and answer questions and when we get the question i'll have more questions for you in that regard. while i supported a responsible end to the war in afghanistan, no american thinks we should have left this way. america cannot end wars simply by walking away. it is naive to assume our enemies will lay down their arms and leave us alone and enshrine human rights if we go home. a fierce battle of idea and ambitions in the world stage and the u.s. can't remain neutral. president biden presented the american people with a false choice in afghanistan and the rushed and embarrassing retreat is a stain on america's credibility that will have implications for years to come. other options could have protected our national security
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interests allowed for a more measured reduction in force and preserved american incredibility. i feel this administration is trying to blame the prior administration and contrary to some that have said that the prior administration started this that's simply not true. the prior administration, when they took steps towards withdrawing from afghanistan entered into an agreement that had very, very specific conditions. i was privy to those so i have personal knowledge of this. in february 2020 agreement was contingent -- contingent upon the taliban reducing violence, meeting counter terrorism commitments and engaging in talks with the afghan government. these were all very important. and most importantly, most importantly it was tell graphed to the taliban that failure to meet their commitments would be met with grave, grave
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circumstances for them. the taliban failed to meet any of these commitments and yet -- yet this administration turned the country over to them. president biden chose to withdraw from afghanistan without conditions and without prudent planning and obviously without most important telegraphing to the taliban they would enforce the conditions the taliban had agreed to. it didn't happen. it was a strategic unforced error against the advice of the commanders on the ground. one of the most embarrassing things i thought was the strike made and we can't talk about what we know from intelligence standpoint but the kinetic strike made after the taliban entered the country, the strike had dire consequences for civilians but not the taliban. these are facts. the president's withdrawal led to a taliban offensive to top el the government. slam the door on any chance for a peace agreement.
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reverse the hard earned rights of afghan women and minorities and a safe haven for terrorists. many who wish to attack the united states. the biden administration left afghanistan in total disarray and single handedly created a humanitarian crisis with thousands of refugees and internally displaced afghans in need of immediate emergency assistance. secretary blinken you characterize the evacuation as an extraordinary effort. you have touted over 124,000 evacuees. the department's efforts were plagued by lack of basic planning. failure to identify americans and energize the siv process and a failure to recognize the taliban for what it is, a terrorist organization. the numbers are telling. you evacuated 6,000 40 americans and say only a couple hundred remain. your own department told this
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committee in july that there were 10,000 to 15,000 americans in afghanistan. there is a huge difference between 6,000 and 15,000. what happened to these other americans? the situation with the special immigration visa evacuations is more disturbing. not counting the sivs that arrived before kabul's fall you evacuated 705 of roughly 20,000 principal siv applicants. what happened to these people? we tried to help the processing. we asked what additional authorities or resource efs you needed. for months we received contradict try responses or no responses at all. one of the biggest problems to help process sivs was the enormous failure of the department of defense to provide the names needed. the fact the d.o.d. didn't keep
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accurate records is irresponsible and a slap in the face for those who fought alongside us. we want to talk to secretary austin about this. despite the enormous efforts of our troops and diplomats on the ground it was a disaster of leadership and administration's own making. not only were you unable to inshire americans had access to the airport many were turned away. americans outside of kabul had no chance of evacuation. green card holders and sivs should have been prioritized for access to the airport as well. no mek nays *r nice many to get inside. it was a informal network of americans that helped get americans and afghans around the bureaucratic wall the administration set up around the airport. the administration is paying itself in the back is like an arsonist taking credit for saving people from the burning building he just set on fire.
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the u.s. military and diplomats could do more than they did if only the political bosses got out of the way. now we have americans and sivs and contractors still in afghanistan despite repeated i sure answers you will get them out. you have been unable to do so. planes are stranded in north afghanistan. voice of america employees and students abandoned and siv applicants are in hiding as taliban death squads hunt them down. you said you would have mechanism for evacuation. where is your plan? i haven't seen it. i haven't talked to anyone who has seen it. i have seen a rebuke from european allies. they begged us for help but when we were not helping our own citizens how could we help them? we had to rely on the generosity of partners like qatar. we have all heard and read the united states is no longer a reliable ally. frankly the way this evacuation was conducted i cannot blame
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them. for years despite strains in our relations with europe and other allies, everyone knew the united states was the competent and capable partner and trusted us to be the steady hand at the wheel to navigate out of any difficult situation. that confidence has been shattered. now across the global aisles doubt our resolve and competitors like china and russia see weakness and think they can exploit the situation. the biden administration is responsible for this alone. going forward the challenges become harder to resolve. u.s. actions must rebuild our credibility and reestablish deterrents. u.s. will need more proactive policies on counter terrorism and security around the globe to discourage our competitors. over the weekend we marked the 20th anniversary of sefpt 11th but yet to receive details how the administration's so-called over the horizon counter terrorism plan will succeed.
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the taliban's takeover destroyed the basis of that strategy. we have yet to receive any information about the administration's revised counter terrorism plan. the taliban continues its relationship with al qaeda and the new interior minister as a u.s. bounty on his head for killing americans. any hope the taliban will protect american security is a fatally flawed assumption. you must redouble efforts to reach agreements with its neighbors and receive disappearing intelligence networks. any country that offered support to the taliban in the recent offensive should risk a strategic downgrade that their relationship with the united states. we must understand pakistan's role in this entire matter as the chairman has alouded to. it is a difficult but important consideration. the administration is rushing to normalize ties with the taliban government.
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this must not occur without congressional notification. it is deeply, deeply concerning. i expect as other members of this committee that will speak to that. that will be a heavy lift for you. on the security front the united states spent over $80 billion on afghan security forces. it by passed this committee. we now see the consequences of the department of defense that operates security cooperation on its own. the taliban is now one of the best armed terrorist organizations on the planet. we have sent repeated requests for the administration's plan to address the captured equipment and yet to receive any response. as secretary i would hope you would demand that all d.o.d. assistance programs once again require state department conquerens. in closing, i would like to speak directly to our diplomats, men and women in uniform, our gold star families, our humanitarian
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workers, and our veterans. on behalf of the american people i would like to say thank you. the ineptitude of this administration does not tarnish your service. what you did mattered. you served noebly. you stood on the wall and prevented a terrorist attack against the united states for over 20 years at enormous cost to you and your families. america will always be indebted to you. thank you. >> thank you. mr. secretary, he has agreed to stay with us until each member has an opportunity to answer their questions. as such and because of the nature of the subject matter i agreed the secretary has an extended opening statement. with that, mr. secretary, you are recognized. >> thank you very much. members, thank you very much and all members i appreciate the opportunity to be with all of you today to discuss our policy on afghanistan including where we are, how we got here
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and where we are going in the weeks and months ahead. for 20 years congress has conducted oversight and provided funding for the mission in afghanistan. and i know from my own time as a staff member here in this room for then senator biden just how invaluable a partner congress is. as i said when i was nominated i believe strongly in congress's traditional role as a partner in foreign policy making and committed to working with you on the path forward in afghanistan and to advance the interests of the american people. on this 20th anniversary of 9/11, as we honor nearly 3,000 men, women and children who lost their lives we are reminded why we went to afghanistan in the first place. to bring justice to those who attacked us, and to insure it would never happen again. we achieved those objectives a long time ago. osama bin laden was killed in
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2011. al qaeda's capabilities were degraded significantly including its ability to plan and conduct external operations. after 20 years, 2,461 american lives lost, 20,000 injuries, $2 trillion spent it was time to end america's longest war. president biden took office in january he inherited an agreement that his predecessor reached with the taliban to remove all forces of afghanistan by may 1 of this year. as part of that agreement they pressed the afghan government to release 5,000 taliban prisoners including top war commanders. meanwhile, it reduced our own force presence to 2500 troops. in return, the taliban agreed to stop attacking u.s. and partner forces and to refrain from threatening afghanistan's major cities. but the taliban continued its relentless march on remote outposts, checkpoints, villages and districts as well as some
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of the major roads connecting the cities. by january of 2021, the taliban was in its strongest military position since 9/11 and we had the smallest number of u.s. forces in afghanistan since 2001. as a result, upon taking office, president biden immediately faced the choice between ending the war or escalating it. had he not followed through on his predecessor's commitment attacks on our forces and those of our allies would have resumed and the attacks on major cities would have commenced. it would have required sending more force evers into afghanistan to defend ourselves and prevent a taliban takeover. taking casualties and with it the prospect of restoring a stalemate and remaining stuck in afghanistan under fire indefinitely. there is no evidence that staying longer would have made the afghan security forces or the afghan government any more
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resilient or self-sustaining. if 20 years, hundreds of billions of dollars in support and equipment and training did not suffice why would another 5, or 10 years. conversely there is nothing that strategic competitors like china and russia or adversaries like iran and north korea would have liked more to than to demain bogged down in afghanistan. in advance of the president's decision i was in constant contact with our allies to hear their views. when the president announced the withdrawal nato embraced it. we all set to work together on the drawdown. similarly, we were intensely focused on the safety of americans in afghanistan. in march we began urging them to leave the country. in total, between march and
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august, we sent 19 specific messages with that warning as well as offers of help including financial assistance to pay for plane tickets. despite this effort, at the time the evacuation began there were still thousands of americans in afghanistan. almost all of whom were evacuated by august 31st. many were dual citizens living in afghanistan for years, decades, generations. deciding whether or not to leave the place they know as home is a wrenching decision. in april, we began drawing down our embassy ordering non-essential personnel to depart. we also used this time to significantly speed up the processing of special immigrant visas for afghans who worked for us. when we took office, we inherited a program with a 14-step process based on a statutory framework enacted by congress involving multiple agencies and a backlog of more than 17,000 siv applicants.
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there had not been a single siv applicant interview in kabul going back to march of 2020. the program was basically in a stall. within two weeks of taking office we restarted the siv reprocess in kabul. february 4th one of the first executive orders issued by president biden directed us to immediately review the siv program to review causes of delay and process applications more quickly. this spring i directed significant additional resources to the program expanding the team of people in washington processing applications from 10 to 50, doubling the number of siv adjudicateors in our embassy in kabul. as many embassy personnel began to return under order of departure, we sent more consular officers to kabul to process siv applications. as a result of these and other steps, including working with
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congress, especially this committee, senator shaheen and others by may we reduced the average time for special immigrant visas by more than one year. amid a covid surge in kabul we continued to issue visas and went from issuing 100 special immigrant visas per week in march to more than 1,000 per week in august when our evacuation and relocation effort began. that emergency evacuation was sparked by the collapse of the afghan security forces and government. throughout the year, we were constantly assessing their staying power and considering multiple scenarios. even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict the government forces in kabul would collapse while u.s. forces remained. they were focused on what would happen after the united states withdrew from september onward. as general milley the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said nothing i or anyone else saw indicated a collapse of
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this army and this government in 11 days. nonetheless, we planned and enter sielsed a wide range of contingencies. because of that planning we were able to draw down our embassy and move remaining personnel to the airport within 48 hours and the military placed on stand by by president biden secured the airport and started the evacuation within 72 hours. yes, that evacuation was an extraordinary effort under the most difficult conditions imaginable by our diplomats, military and intelligence professionals. they worked around the clock to get american citizens, afghans who helped us. sit since of allies and partners out of the country or to transit locations that our diplomats had worked. we reached out to americans still in country making 5,000 phone calls, sending 33,000
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emails by august 31st and they're still at it. in the midst of this effort an isis attack killed 13 service members and wounded 20 others, killed and wounded scores of afghans. our service members gave their lives so that others can continue to live theirs. in the end, we completed one of the biggest air lifts in history with 124,000 people evacuated to safety. on august 31st in kabul the military mission in afghanistan officially ended and a new diplomatic mission began. i want to acknowledge the more than two dozen countries that have helped with the relocation effort. some serving as transit hubs, some welcoming afghan evacuees for longer periods of time and as the 9/11 report suggested, it is essential that we accelerate the appointments
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process for national security officials since a catastrophic a tack could occur with little or no notice. today there are nearly 80 state department nominees pending before the senate. nearly two dozen have been voted out of this committee on a strong bipartisan basis. and simply await a vote in the senate. for our national security, i respectfully urge the senate and this committee to move as quickly as possible to consider and confirm all pending nominees and to address what is a significant disruption in our national security policy making. now let me briefly outline what the state department has done in the last couple of weeks and where we are going in the weeks ahead. first as you know we moved our diplomatic operations from kabul to doha where our new afghan affairs team is hard at work. many of our key partners have done the same thing. they have joined us in doha. second, we've continued our relentless efforts to help any
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americans and others to leave afghanistan if they choose. last week on thursday a charter flight with u.s. citizens and others on board departed kabul. on friday a second flight carrying u.s. citizens and others departed afghanistan. these flights were the result of coordinated efforts by the united states, qatar and turkey to reopen the airport and intense diplomacy to start the flights. in addition to those flights, half a dozen american citizens, a dozen permanent residents of the united states have also left afghanistan via overland routes with our assistance. we're in constant contact with american citizens still in afghanistan who told us they wish to leave. each has a case magment team to offer instructions. some declined to be on the first flights thursday and friday for needing more time to make arrangements, wanting to remain in extended family for now or medical issues that
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precluded traveling last week. we will continue to help americans and afghans to whom we have a special commitment depart afghanistan if they choose just as we've done in other countries where we've evacuated our embassy and hundreds or even thousands of americans remained behind. in libya, syria, venezuela, yemen, somalia. there is no deadline to this effort. third, we're focused on counter terrorism. taliban committed they will not let terrorist groups including al qaeda and isis-k. we'll hold them accountable for that. that does not mean we'll rely on them. we'll maintain a vigilant effort to monitor threats, robust counter terrorism capabilities in the region to neutralize those threats if necessary. and as we do in places around
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the world where we do not have military forces on the ground. fourth, we continue our intensive diplomacy with allies and partners. we initiated a statement joined by more than 100 countries and a united nations security council resolution setting out the international community's expectations of a taliban-led government. we expect the taliban to insure freedom of travel. to make good on its counter terrorism commit also. to up hold the basic rights of the afghan people including women, girls, minorities. to name a broadly representative permanent government, it will depend on its conduct. we've organized contact groups of key countries to insure the international community speaks and acts together on afghanistan and to leverage our combined influence. last week i led a minister
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meeting of 22 countries plus e.u. and the united nations to align our efforts. fifth, we'll continue to support humanitarian aid to the afghan people consistent with sanctions. this aid will not flow through the government but rather through independent organizations like ngos and u.n. agencies. yesterday we announced the united states has provided nearly $64 million in new humanitarian assistance to the people of afghanistan to meet critical health and nutrition needs and address protection concerns of women and children and minorities and helping girls go back to school. this funding means the united states has provided nearly $330 million in assistance to the afghan people this fiscal year. in doha and ramstein i toured the facilities where afghans we evacuated are being processed before moving to their next destinations. at home i spent time at the
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dulles center where 45,000 afghans have been processed after arriving in the united states. it is remarkable to see what our diplomats, military, employees from many civilian agencies across the u.s. government have been able to achieve in a very short time. they've met an enormous human need and coordinated food, water, sanitation for thousands of people. they are arranging medical care including the delivery of babies. they are reuniting families that were separated, caring for unaccompanied minors. some extraordinary interagency effort. powerful testament to the skill, dedication and humanity of our people. i think we can all be deeply proud of what they are doing and as we've done throughout our history americans are now welcoming fam laoels from afghanistan into our communities, helping them resettle as they start new lives and that is something to be proud of as well. with that i thank the members of this committee and look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. secretary.
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let me first begin by asking unanimous consent to enter into the hearing record a letter by the u.s. afghan women's council calling on the biden administration to take immediate actions at the united nations to protect afghan civilians, particularly women and girls. it is without objection and so ordered. let's start a series of seven minute rounds. i will hold the time tight so every member can get their opportunity and i will start off by making sure that i don't exceed my seven minutes. prior to the final flight out, we heard from both american citizens and afghan partners seeking to access the airport but they were either not being allowed through the gates, being sent back home or simply abandoned. while we understand and appreciate the security issues that were at play it is confounding that such a chaotic process arose to begin with. so when did the administration
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begin to plan for a worst-case scenario contingency? >> in the spring and summer. >> in the spring and summer of this year. >> yes, multiple interagency meetings, exercises looking at the different contingencies. >> so what was the specific planning put into the likely scenario that american citizens were going to have to evacuate under hostile conditions? >> planning went to a number of things including the ability to move our embassy quickly as we did in 48 hours. including the effort to make sure we could control the airport, bring flights in and evacuate people out. one of the things that happened as you know, mr. chairman, is that the situation outside the airport became incredibly chaotic with thousands of people massing at the airport, massing at the gates of the airport and that created, among other things, a very, very
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challenging situation. >> should we not have started earlier so there wasn't a bigger surge on the siv issue? i recognize i think it's only fair to put in context that your own testimony suggested there was a 17,000 siv backlog that nine months had passed by without a single interview. so obviously you inherited a significant backlog. how many sivs were award evidence during the trump administration? >> i don't have the numbers if front of me. over the course of the administration there must have been several thousand. >> so the question is then should we not have surged more significantly? you said you put up to 50 individuals, but knowing that you were preparing for a contingency of the worst case scenario, should not back in march there have been a more significant surge to process sivs and determine the entire
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universe of who needed to be taken out? >> well, i believe we did surge those resources. as i said we increased the number proper sention sivs. the most important stage in many ways is the so-called chief admission approval where applicants are deemed eligible under the criteria established by congress for the program. by the way, those who apply, those who actually get admission approval. the wash-out rate is 40% because it turns out many people who apply don't qualify under the criteria set by congress or they are unaible to get the documentation. this was alluded to to prove they worked faithful mri and loyally for the united states. some situations where people are committing fraud in order to get into the program for understandable reasons maybe.
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but the point is, we have a very lengthy process, 14 steps, multiple agencies involved. we work to try to streamline that. more work we would like to do moving forward but we did significantly surge our resources to that, particularly to the chief admission and approval process and ultimately we went from 10 to 50 to 61 or 62 now working on that stage of things. doubled the resource evers we had in kabul all in an effort to ex -- expedite. and we did. what was not anticipated was the collapse in 11 days of the afghan government and the afghan military. >> let me ask you this. numerous press reports over the past weeks of a new or refined process for state department to work with the department of defense and outside groups to
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evacuate american citizens and allies left behind in afghanistan. can you tell us exactly what the new u.s. government-led efforts are and coordination with outside groups and individuals being handled, by who, what is the nature of the d.o.d./state cooperation? give us a sense of that. >> we have within the department led to john bass who went back to lead the he vac efforts in kabul. is leading an effort to manage and coordinate all the ongoing efforts to bring people who wish to leave afghanistan out. that includes among other things coordination with the many outside groups as well as members of congress who are working themselves heroicly to help in this effort. i met myself with 75 veterans organizations a couple of weeks ago given the extraordinary efforts that veterans either
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individually or as groups are doing to help and we want to make sure that we are as coordinated as we can be on these efforts to make sure we know who is doing what, what assistance we can provide, and to make sure that we're working together going forward. we have many other people working on this task force. some dedicated to american citizens, others focused on sivs and other afghans at risk and others coordinating with different groups including members of congress. >> let me give you a final minute give you an opportunity to set the record straight on one point. several commentators have suggested that had the department moved forward with a crisis contingency and response bureau proposed by the trump administration as it was walking out the door it would have been able to respond better to the afghan situation. but it's my understanding that bureau had not been stood up yet when you decided to curtail
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the proposal or did it actually add any additional resources or capabilities to those that state already had. it was a bureaucratic movement not reciting or getting rid of capabilities just a new organizational chart. that created danger to the department's operation. is that a fair statement? >> that's a fair statement. >> it is not the ccr, what is the answer? >> here again to your point, with regard to the ccr, whether it became a bureau or not, there was no change in the assets that we already had at hand to work on these efforts and the focus of this group either in its existing organizational structure or had it become the bureau which among other things it didn't because there were congressional holds across the aisle on this effort.
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the previous administration went through and tried to move it forward. we decided we needed to review it. we did the review and as you describe very accurately we found that this would add no assets to what we already had at hand and simply create a different bureaucratic structure but this is something designed primarily for individual extractions, medical emergencies. men and women who were part of our operational medical unit are remarkable and do incredible work but not the kind of work that would have been applicable to the large evacuation we had to conduct. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i can tell you i have listened to you and a handful of other people try to put the best face on this as possible and i can tell you that the temperature of the american people is not there with you.
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i'm not talking from a partisan basis. this goes both ways. there is not enough lipstick in the world to put on this pig to make it look any different than what it actually is. somebody -- the american people want to know who is responsible for this. let's start with this. who is responsible? who made the decisions on this? was it the president of the united states? >> ultimately the president makes the decisions, that's correct. >> did he in this case? >> as in every case ultimately decisions that can only be decided by the president are decided by the president. now of course to be specific, senator, there are hundreds, thousands of decisions every single day that go into a situation as complex as this one. the big strategic decisions are decided by the president. the tactical, operational decisions are made by different
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agencies. agency heads, agency officials. >> i'm more interested in the top decision making. look, we have all seen this. we saw it as recently as yesterday. somebody in the white house has authority to press the button and stop the president, cut off the president's speaking ability and sound. who is that person? >> i think anyone who knows the president, including members of this committee, knows that he speaks very clearly and very deliberately for himself. no one else does. >> are you saying that there is no one in the white house that can cut him off? because yesterday that happened and it has happened a number of times. it has been widely reported that somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off his sound and stop him from speaking. who is that person? >> there is no such person. again, the president speaks for himself. makes all of the strategic
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decisions informed by the best advice he can get from the people around him. >> are you unaware this is actually happening? it happened yesterday at the interagency fire center. it was widely reported. the media has reported on it and it is not the first time it has happened. it has happened several times. are you telling this committee that this does not happen, that there is no one in the white house who pushes the button and cuts him off in mid sentence? >> that's correct. >> so this didn't happen yesterday nor on the other occasions where the media showed the american people that his sentence was cut off in mid sentence. are you saying that didn't happen? >> senator, i really don't know what you are referring to. having worked with the president for now 20 years both here on this committee and over the last nine months at the
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white house, the president very much speaks for himself. >> let's take a different attack. he does speak for himself but what happens when somebody doesn't want him speaking? you are telling us you don't know anything about this, that somebody cuts him off in mid sentence. is that what you are trying to tell this committee? everybody here has seen it. >> i'm telling you based on my own experience with the president over the last 20 years, anyone who tried to stop him from saying what he wanted to say speaking his mind would probably not be long for their job. >> let's turn to the dissent cable you received in july. are you willing to give a copy of this dissent cable that you got from two dozen diplomats regarding the imminent catastrophic collapse in afghanistan, are you willing to give a copy of that to this committee? >> this dissent channel is
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something i place tremendous value and importance on. it is a way for people in the state department to speak the truth as they see it to power. these cables i've read every single one of the dissent channel cables we've gotten and i've responded to every single one and i factored what i read and heard into my thinking and into my actions. but the legitimacy of the channel, the ability for people to be able to, with confidence, share their thoughts, share their views even when they run counter to what their seniors have said or the policies being prescribed is vitally important we protect that channel and protect its integrity and it is designed by federal regulations only to be shared with senior officials in the department. and what i don't want to see is some kind of chilling effect going forward that says to
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those who would think of writing a cable in the future that this will get out widely and be distributed in ways that would have that chilling effect. >> do you admit that you received a dissent cable in july signed by two dozen diplomats that warned about the imminent catastrophic collapse that was coming in afghanistan? >> i certainly received the cable in mid july. i read it. i responded to it. i factored its contents into my thinking. and what the cable said broadly is -- two things. it did not suggest that the government and security forces were going to collapse prior to our departure. it expressed concerned about after our departure and the efforts we were making on the siv front to try to expedite moving them out. in fact, a number of the very
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good recommendations it made were already in train, others were not. one was the establishment of operation, allies refuge. we received the cable july 13th. that operation was actually put into force on july 14th. it had already been planned for some time. an effort to expedite the identification and relocation of sivs, putting them on planes which is not part of the program. actually relocating them and working to establish transit sites so we could put them there while we finished processing them. >> that's the problem with us not having access to that table. you are telling us that but we have been told by others that it was significantly different than what you are saying. also, we really would like to see the response to that. i think history will be interested in that particular cable and your response to it.
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i will sit my next question for the next round. >> senator core din. i have asked him to preside. >> thank you for being with us today and thank you during the afghan evacuations for almost a daily briefings you have for all members of the united states senate and keeping us totally informed as to the events unfolding. i contrast that to what happened during the trump years where we were not kept informed at all about the negotiations between the trump administration and the taliban. that we had no briefing or information at all in regards to the summit meetings between the united states and north korea. or the united states and russia. where our committee could not conduct oversight that is so important as you have pointed out working with the executive
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branch in a check and balance for the unity of our country. i thank you very much for the way that you have kept us engaged and informed as decisions have been made. as you pointed out, the biden administration was dealt a very difficult hand on the withdrawal from afghanistan. we all recognize we needed to withdraw, the options were extremely limited. the mistakes made by previous administrations, we've talked about it. i think we need to understand that many of us did not support the 2002 campaign to go into iraq. one of those reasons was we wanted to complete the mission in afghanistan when we had a chance to do it when the taliban was diminished after our military came in after the attack on our country. instead we went into iraq which was not engaged in the 9/11 activities and we never finished afghanistan. a mistake made by the bush administration. we've already talked about the trump


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